2022 in Review: Cats, Mushrooms and Politics

Sifting through a year’s worth of photos on my phone revealed a few themes for our 2022: a lot of cats, some mushrooms and an insane year of politics here in Los Angeles. I use my phone for note taking, to remember things that I’d either like to look up later, blog about or show to Kelly. What follows after the jump is a random assortment of things, places events that made up our 2022.

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Killdozer Nation

I’ve got a pile of objects that I’ve kept around with the idea that I’d write about them someday. Ironically, this stash includes a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In the interest of whittling down that pile we’ll begin with a review of a book, Killdozer: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage that I found in one of the Little Free Libraries I visit on my morning dog walk.

On June 4th, 2004 the author, Patrick Brower, witnessed this bizarre and largely forgotten incident in which Marv Heemeyer, a skilled welder and muffler shop owner, demolished the town of Grandby Colorado with a DIY tank.

Dubbed the “Killdozer,” Heemeyer’s tank, built on top of a Komatsu D355A bulldozer, included armor plating, external cameras, and a 50 caliber rifle. Heemeyer piloted the Killdozer around Grandby destroying the offices of Brower’s newspaper, the Sky-Hi News, and many other businesses and government buildings. Miraculously, no one was killed or injured except for Heemeyer.

Brower describes, in detail, the petty grievances that led up to the incident and dismantles the hero worship of Heemeyer that began immediately after his death. Heemeyer occupies a very familiar class of people: aggrieved and violent middle aged 50-something men who are relatively prosperous independent businessmen. Coming out of a culture of toxic individualism you can easily link Heemeyer with people like Ammon Bundy and the clownish January 6th rioters. Look closely at any of these men and what you will find is a basic inability to share toys in the sandbox. Unfortunately this toxic individualism can manifest in acts of what has come to be called “stochastic violence,” self-radicalized terrorism.

There was some real bravery in Grandby on that day in 2004, from the cop who jumped up on top of Heemeyer’s moving tank, to the heavy equipment operator who attempted to disable the Killdozer with a commandeered road scraper. If not for these delaying tactics many lives might have been lost.

Sadly, I think we’ll see more of these types of incidents such as the recent attacks on the power grid as well as the mass shootings we take for granted in the United States. Brower’s detailed description of what led up to the incident as well as its aftermath can point to ways to end this cycle of violence. Undoing the myth of individualism that’s so much a part of this country is a start. That, and providing the unflattering context for these acts of violence in order to prevent these idiots from being elevated as martyrs or heroes.

Hauntological Updates

Back in 2021 I wrote about windowless buildings. In that post I mentioned the 10 freeway adjacent Abram Friedman Occupational Center, a monolithic, windowless building ornamented only with a crass Harbor Freight  sponsorship ad. Thanks to Steven Sharp, editor of Urbanize LA I now know that underneath all that stucco there’s a handsome 1920s era building:

I’m guessing the race to the bottom that is Crapitalism™ and a related disinvestment in public trade schools explains this bizarre architectural decision. The before and after pictures of this building reveal a transformation into what looks like a prison, hostile to any poor soul who walks the barren sidewalk next to those blank walls or who wanders its liminal, florescent lit corridors.

Or, to repeat the most bizarre architectural conspiracy theory on the interwebs, could this be another attempt to erase the lost Tartarian civilization?

Ghosts of Christmas Present
In a post this summer I mentioned a combined aesthetic/moral/anxiety crisis I described as a horror of  rootless landscapes. It turns out that Mark Fisher coined a word for this feeling: nomadology. Merlin Coverley author of Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past describes Fisher’s term as,

a sense of unease, akin to travel sickness, engendered by such anonymous environments as airports and shopping malls whose sameness seems to deflect even the possibility of nostalgia for a past that is wholly absent. Instead these spaces, whose endless repetition the world over leaves one feeling as if one could be anywhere, provoke ‘the sickness of travel [. . .] a complement to, not the opposite of, the sickness for home, nostalgia.’

I recommend Coverley’s book and, in my own take on Christmas ghost story reading, I just picked up a copy of Mark Fisher’s hauntological classic Ghosts of My Life.

Root Simple email subscription
A few readers alerted me to the fact that they were no longer getting Root Simple’s blog posts emailed to them. It turns out our subscription feature got nuked by Feedburner. I’m looking for an alternative but it’s going to take me awhile. I’ll let you all know when I find a solution.

Happy holidays to all of you who have stuck with this blog over the years and best wishes for a great 2023.